Auto insurers are merging innovation and technology in a way that will enable them to finally combat distracted driving in 2023. So why aren’t we talking about it more?
Probably because insurers are entering a new year filled with more external business challenges than they’ve faced in a decade. Inflation and a looming recession are threatening business as usual, but that’s hardly unique to the insurance industry — no business is safe from those threats right now. Specific challenges in the auto industry — scant skilled labor, chip shortages and climbing repair prices — compound an already difficult economic landscape for 2023.
Although they’re serious, the ramifications of these challenges stop at the bottom line. Distracted driving, on the other hand, literally threatens the lives of customers. The pandemic did not make us better drivers — in fact, traffic fatalities are up in 2022, and hallmark behaviors of distracted driving like hard braking and speeding have also increased.
Even though insurers are trimming budgets in 2023, they can still press forward on investment and innovation that keep drivers and people safe from distracted driving. If auto insurance takes the lead on championing and adopting telematics and the data it derives from driving behavior, the entire auto transportation industry and its players will reap the rewards.
Deeper distracted driving insights benefit everyone
We’ve all seen the cars we drive change to reduce unsafe driving, even if the evolution has happened slowly. Blinking lights on side mirrors now alert us to blind-spot threats, dashboards light up when we stray from our lane, and even older models provide seat belt warnings that remind us to buckle up.
But this year, we’re poised to see innovation that makes these features look as outdated as a console ashtray. With increased adoption of in-vehicle telematics in addition to mobile telematics, 2023 will be the year we start to see more advanced driver safety features and far deeper data and insights into how drivers behave. Where are the driver’s eyes? Is their foot on the brake? Are they swerving?
Here’s how telematics and enhanced driver data will impact the automotive landscape:
- Auto insurers can adjust how they reach drivers. Many insurers will increase rates in the coming year, but it’s not the only lever to pull to protect the bottom line. Better data on how drivers behave can help auto insurance marketers target safer drivers, and subsequently realize a higher lifetime value for each new customer. These insights will upend the status quo in auto insurance marketing. Marketing KPIs will start to account for the number of accidents, number of repairs and incidents of distracted driving and other risky driving behaviors in totality — and the brass ring will shift to attracting the safest drivers from the start.
- Drivers will welcome anti-distraction tech and techniques. Blind-spot alerts and seat belt warnings were just previews of what smarter in-car technology can do to help drivers stay safe. But there’s another device in our vehicles that can play a major role in keeping us safe and ironically, it’s a common source of distraction — our mobile phone. Tools that track phone use while driving are proliferating throughout the industry, and the awareness they’re bringing to drivers about how often they take their eyes off the road is invaluable. Some apps even reward drivers with badges and streaks for focused driving. In the end, drivers that adopt these tools could receive better insurance rates or get discount offers as rewards for their good driving behavior.
- Roadway stewards improve driving conditions. Safer roads are a community effort. At every level of transportation, there is a network of stakeholders and stewards of our roads. With deeper insights into what’s happening on the roads in their jurisdictions, transportation professionals have ample opportunity to make improvements in 2023. Notoriously dangerous intersections, roads prone to nighttime collisions or other known hazards can be mitigated as drivers share how they drive via their phones. Civil engineers and law enforcement can then make decisions to help traffic flow better and keep drivers safer.
Insurers are facing challenging financial headwinds. But the silver lining of 2023 will be the inroads they can make toward improved driver safety. With more data and better awareness of distracted driving, the entire transportation ecosystem benefits.